"On Mars, when we start getting these Marsquakes, they're going to be telling us where there's stuff going on on Mars, where the forces are concentrating, and I think that's going to tell us something that was probably completely absent from our models".
A further three achieved orbit but failed to land. "We've spent years testing our plans, learning from other Mars landings and studying all the conditions Mars can throw at us", said Rob Grover, InSight's entry, descent and landing (EDL) lead, based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, in a recent statement.
The odds are in NASA's favor, but it will be some time until the world finds out whether the landing is successful. Having launched on May 5, 2018 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California as it enters the atmosphere of Mars, InSight will be traveling at 14,100 miles per hour.
At this crucial time the probe will break through the thin Martian atmosphere with its heat shield first, and then use a parachute to slow down. However, a high-speed crash remains a risk.
NASA scientists chose InSight's landing zone, the vast and tiresome Elysium Planitia, because they're interested in Mars's interior, not its surface. On Sunday at 4:47 p.m. ET, engineers were still correcting course "to steer the spacecraft within a few kilometers of its targeted entry point over Mars", NASA said.
And if you're more of an explorer kind of person and not so interested in Martian geology, it will also tell us how warm the planet is at modest depths, which will tell us if there is any chance of liquid water on the planet.
InSight will land on Mars at approximately 3 P.M. EST.
InSight's third investigation relies on the lander's radio system. Another signal will be sent seven minutes later, this time using a more powerful antenna and transmitting information to indicate if the craft is in a "healthy, functioning state". It's hoped that the radio telescopes will pick up those signals, though NASA also has a couple of CubeSats orbiting Mars that could help relay the signals.
No landing on Mars is easy.
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InSight is landing in what seems to bea very boring part of Mars, known as Elysium Planitia.
The InSight mission will also bring several martian "firsts" to interplanetary science, including the first seismometer situated on the surface, to detect and analyze waves created by "marsquakes".
The space agency's older, smaller Opportunity was roaming around up there until June, when a global dust storm knocked it out of service.
The Mars insight mission has been the product of decades of planning.
The $1 billion worldwide effort calls for the robotic geologist to explore Mars' mysterious interior. Together, those instruments will take measurements of Mars' vital signs, like its pulse, temperature and reflexes - which translates to internal activity like seismology and the planet's wobble as the sun and its moons tug on Mars.
NASA will be providing commentary so that we can understand how things are going, and when the lander makes a successful touchdown you can bet you'll see a whole lot of cheering and happy faces.
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NASA's last Martian landfall took place with the Curiosity rover in 2012, so interest in the mission was heating up, with viewing parties planned at museums, planetariums and libraries across the US.